Ellsworth 250 in the News
July 10, 2013
In a little more than a year from now, Friends in Action (FIA) is scheduled to move into its renovated and refurbished home at the Moore Community Center on State Street.
That’s where the group, formed in 2003, has been based in recent years after the city offered use of the space.
A yearlong renovation project has just gotten started at the Moore School, and so, since July 1, FIA has been sharing space with Washington Hancock Community Agency on the Bucksport Road.
While relocating has come with the typical stress, challenges and adjustments that come with any big move, FIA officials said the waiting will be worth it.
“This whole renovation gives us so much more opportunity,” said Jo Cooper, executive director of FIA.
As a way to celebrate the renovation, as well as the group’s own 10th birthday, FIA is hosting a dance party on Saturday, July 20, the first day of the city’s big 250th birthday bash.
“It’s the first day of the weeklong celebration,” noted FIA board member Candy Gammelin. “It’s our 10-year anniversary, and we’re seeing it as a birth of the senior center.”
Working with seniors has been the focus of FIA’s mission since it was formed a decade ago. Transportation was the big focus at that time — getting folks to doctor appointments or just to the grocery store, anything to help reduce the feeling of being alone.
“It can be very isolating,” said Cooper, referring to older people living on their own. The group has grown in size and numbers over the past 10 years. Currently, FIA has more than 200 volunteers who help 500 people in the community each year.
Part of that growth came when the city asked FIA to oversee programming for seniors, and the group moved into the former Moore school on State Street.
Programming at the Moore Center — which FIA shares with the YMCA’s child care program — has grown to include everything from computer lessons to yoga.
Noting that Hancock County has the oldest population in Maine and that Maine has the oldest population in the country, Cooper said the need for the services offered by FIA is “tremendous.”
Working with the city and YMCA in making plans for the renovated building has been a positive and mutually beneficial experience, according to Cooper and Gammelin.
The women said they see working with, and providing services for, seniors in the same way. The seniors have a lot of skills and knowledge that might otherwise be lost or not get shared if they didn’t get out and spend time with others in the community.
“It’s not just ‘Let us help the old people,’” said Cooper. “It’s such a benefit to everyone. It’s a very, very mutual thing.”
The dance on July 20 will be held under a big tent at Knowlton Park on State Street, and will feature the music of classic rock band Whoopy Kat. The dance starts at 7 p.m.
The dance will be preceded by hors d’oeuvres from Big Cats Catering and Chef Alex Grant and a cash bar starting at 6 p.m. at the same location.
Tickets are $20 for an individual or $30 for a couple. Anyone attending the dance must be 21 or older and must have their identification with them. Tickets can be purchased by calling FIA at 664-6016.
For more information about Friends in Action, visit www.friendsinactionellsworth.org.